If an unpermitted enclosure was put up in my apartment breezeway which resulted in my being assaulted, canI sue my landlord?

UPDATED: Jan 26, 2011

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If an unpermitted enclosure was put up in my apartment breezeway which resulted in my being assaulted, canI sue my landlord?

Nobody could see inside the breezeway after it was wrapped in black plastic and these men led me and my neighbor inside.  Once there they turned to him and said, “We’re gonna rob the bitch” and they punched him in the face and he ran out to get help. Then all 3 turned on to me and they knocked me out, broke my leg, gave me a concussion, bruises and lacerations, and stole my coat and everything in it (including my wallet, all my money, 2 prescriptions, and some miscellaneous personal items). What are my rights against my landlord?

Asked on January 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The lack of a permit does not by itself mean the landlord would be liable for your injuries and losses, though it can be useful evidence. The key issue is whether the landlord was negligent, or unreasonably careless, in protecting tenant security. That in turn will depend on whether the security risk posed by the plastic was foreseeable; how strong were the reasons for putting it up (and so do they outweigh a potential security risk; e.g. was it necessary to protect from falling debris?); to what extent did the enclosure contribute to the attack (could it have happened without the enclosure); and whether  even if the enclosure was necessary, were there other things (better lighting, security cameras) that could have been done to deter attacks/improve security? So it's a question of the facts and circumstances. The lack of a permit may help show that it was not well thought out or appropriate.

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